GLENN: Before we went on vacation a couple of weeks ago, Nic Anderson, he called us up and we were talking about the Common Core and what they were using. And I had mentioned something that was in Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance: Critical factors for success in the 21st century. And this is from the Department of Education. This is their handbook that they had posted. And I asked him, because he called up and he said ‑‑ he could define what an FCAT ‑‑ or an fMRI was. And it talks about fMRIs, it talks about, you know, digital wristbands around your kids’ wrists and monitoring everything about your kids while they’re in class. And he called in to say, “Hey, look, the definition of, you know, some of these things.” And I said, well, would you look into this. Well, he did, and he’s reporting back now. And he’s a guy who uses this technology. He is actually a medical technology analyst and owner of North Carolina Anderson Consulting. Let’s bring Nic in. Nic, is it NC Anderson or is it North Carolina Anderson Consulting?
ANDERSON: NC Anderson.
GLENN: NC Anderson Consulting.
ANDERSON: But I’m sure the people of North Carolina appreciate the shout‑out.
GLENN: Okay. So Nic, first of all, you are only working off of what you found in the Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance from the Department of Education’s website, right?
ANDERSON: That’s right. Either there or from the people that they cite as experts. I’ve gone to them and I’ve looked up what they are doing, what they are working on. But yes, it’s all based off of this document from the Department of Education.
GLENN: I told you two weeks ago, I said anything that you find, make sure you burn it to a DVD because, are you aware of what the Department of Education has done with this handbook?
ANDERSON: Yeah. So I ‑‑ the day after, maybe the day of when you and I spoke on March 28th, I went and I logged on and tried to find the PDF and couldn’t find it anywhere. And thank goodness Keith had ‑‑ one of your ‑‑
ANDERSON: Yeah. He called ‑‑ he sent me the link and I was able to go to it straight from there. But then I tried to look it up on my own and couldn’t find it anywhere and I just found it again yesterday but it’s ‑‑
ANDERSON: You have to dig for it. It’s not right there.
GLENN: Yeah. It used to be right there.
GLENN: They know we are onto them and they are trying to cover their tracks. If you are doing anything on Common Core, I’m telling you this is absolute evil. It is evil. Make no mistake. And you are going to come up against the big Republicans and the big Democrats on this one. Evil.
Nic, what did you find about the things that they are doing? I mean, they are making our kids into guinea pigs and they are monitoring them and they are collecting data points on them. What did you find?
ANDERSON: That’s right. I mean, one of the interesting things is right at the top of this document, right in the beginning, let me read this little paragraph. I mean, this is just, it’s comical if it wasn’t scary. It says, “It may not always be productive to persevere in the face of challenge. For example, persevering to accomplish goals that are extrinsically motivated, unimportant to the student or in some way inappropriate for the student and potentially induce stress, anxiety and distraction and have detrimental impacts on students’ long‑term retention, conceptual learning or psychological wellbeing. Careful research is still necessary to help educators learn how to protect students, engage them, and fine‑tune practices…”
GLENN: So wait a minute. They are saying that it might be inappropriate, it might be uncomfortable but they still have to do it?
ANDERSON: That’s right. And the funny thing is this whole document’s about grit and perseverance and they are saying, you know what? It might not be a good thing to always try hard. There are times when, you know, we don’t want to overstress these kids because, you know, heaven, heaven forbid they actually have to work for something.
GLENN: Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about the fMRI.
GLENN: Skin conductance and pupil monitoring that they are planning on doing.
ANDERSON: So the document, let’s see. Page 32 says, for example, data mining techniques can track students’ trajectories or persistence and learning over time, thereby providing actionable feedback to students and teachers. In additional, functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, and psychological indicators offer insight into the biology and neuroscience underlying observed students’ behaviors.
Well, fMRI is based on the premise that as your brain thinks, it consumes oxygen and increases the magnetization of certain regions of your brain. So in theory I could take a kid and put him in the scanner and ask him a series of questions, things he should have learned in class and if his brain isn’t consuming oxygen as I would expect it to be, well, then in theory I could hold the kid back at the end of the year, I could advance him if he answers really well and so on. The fusion tensor imaging is not mentioned in the article but it is a major research point right now by a couple of the authors. The fusion tensor imaging is able to track how two areas of the brain are connected. So if I said the color “brown” and you think of dirt, those are two separate things. Dirt is brown and brown is brown. Those are two separate parts of the brain thinking of something, but they’re connected. And if I did an fMRI on you, I could see that, wait a minute, why when I said the word “brown” did this part of your brain light up. Well, diffusion tenser imaging will allow me to draw a connection between where the color brown is located in your brain and where the word “dirt” or the concept of dirt is located in your brain, and I can connect those two things.
GLENN: So what does that do?
ANDERSON: Well ‑‑
GLENN: Why do I need that or what is the good part of that and bad part of that?
ANDERSON: The good, some of the good parts, it’s used in stroke. You know, like in detecting a stroke patient, you know, so on, certain things. But where it’s being proposed in education is that if I could do diffusion tenser imaging, if kids aren’t making these connections like I would expect them to be, something’s wrong. And once again I could hold the kid back. So if I said, you know, 4 times 4 and then the part of your brain that is able to analyze that is not connected to the 4 times 4 part of your brain, then I suspect that something’s wrong with you.
GLENN: Can I tell you something? I just had ‑‑ because I’m trying some holistic things and everything else and ‑‑ because I have really severe neuropathy and so I was on vacation. I went and I had a brain scan and I think it was probably kind of like an fMRI. But they did this whole scan on me and the doctor, when he got to the brain scan, he was sitting behind the deal and he went, whoa, never seen that before. And that’s really something you don’t want your doctor to say. And I said, what is that? And he said, you’ve got to look at this. And the creative side of my brain was just on fire. He’s like, I’ve not ever seen the creative side. And he said, he started showing me. He said, look at how this all connects all the way down. Well, I would be spat out as abnormal, but you in a good way. Now ‑‑
GLENN: Now, if I am ‑‑ the things that make me unique, for instance my ADHD, that has made me unique and has made me, because I can adapt to it, it gives me a different set of skills than everybody else. If they start saying, well, you’re not functioning like everybody else, you’re going to destroy the people like Steve Jobs because I can guarantee you Steve Jobs doesn’t think like everybody else. The guy who runs Virgin Airways.
ANDERSON: Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, or anybody.
GLENN: Einstein, yeah, didn’t they ‑‑ I think they pickled his brain to be able to see it later because he operated differently. So isn’t this doing extraordinary damage to people?
ANDERSON: That’s right ‑‑ ‑ that to the overseers of this. So if we did skin conductance testing which is, you know, if I say something and it makes you panic, your skin gets clammy, that’s part of your sympathetic nervous system and I can detect the clamminess of your skin and I go, wait, you shouldn’t be freaking out like that. That was a simple question I asked you about, you know, some mathematical problem or whatever. And I can detect that data point. This whole article, by the way, this whole draft is all based on data mining. They mention it a hundred times. And that’s ‑‑
GLENN: Explain what data mining means. Explain why that’s bad.
ANDERSON: So let me see if I can find. They mention data mining right in the very top of it. New technologies using educational data mining and affective computing ‑‑ “affective computing” is fMRIs, skin conductants, pupil dilation monitoring ‑‑ are being ‑‑ are beginning to focus on microlevel moment‑by‑moment data within digital and blended learning environments to provide feedback to adapt learning tasks to personalized needs.
So what they will do is I could take a group of 100 kids, and they’re all let’s say in twelfth grade and I’m able to ask them all a series of questions while I’m monitoring them with skin conduct ants or pressure monitors or whatever it is. And then I’d be able in theory, this is all in theory, to collect that data over fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade and so on and stratify those children maybe by the time they get to high school and say, “okay, over the last 10 years every time I ask Tommy and Billy and Sally a mathematical question, they clam up, they freak out and they get the answer wrong” and now I can use that data to steer them or whatever it may be. But this data mining, if I can collect data ‑‑ and don’t get me wrong. I’m not against data. That’s all I do all day long is analyze data. I love data, but I love data in the free market. I don’t love data in the government. And if parents could opt out, if parents could choose to have nothing to do with this, then that’s one thing. But ‑‑
GLENN: No, but it won’t work that way. You create too ‑‑
ANDERSON: ‑‑ opt out of Social Security taxes if I could.
GLENN: You will create two class systems. If you opt out of the government collecting 20 years of data on your kid, they will make it so no one will want to hire you because I know exactly what I’m going to get from Nic. If I hire Nic, I know who he is because I’ve got this 20‑year research study done by the government. But I don’t know who you are.
GLENN: And why is it that you are so freaky that you didn’t want in this system in the first place, right?
ANDERSON: This is funny because you mentioned a few minutes ago, you know, where are we going? I mean, this is sci‑fi stuff that if I mentioned this to you 10 years ago, you would have called me a conspiracy theorist, and here I am. I’m holding the document in my hand.
GLENN: And let me tell you something. And Nic, they are still saying ‑‑ I mean, you have Republicans coming out and saying this is conspiracy theorist stuff.
GLENN: They are saying that today. We’re not talking about making this up and drawing conclusions. It is in the Department of Education’s own textbook.
ANDERSON: That’s right.
GLENN: It is in their plan.
ANDERSON: You know, in 1840 a man named Frederick Bastiat. You can read his book, it’s 100 pages long called The Law. And he said if you suggest the doubt as to the morality of these institutions, it is directly said, quote, you’re a dangerous experimenter, a utopian, a theorist, a despiser of the laws. You would shake the basis upon which society rests.
GLENN: Explain that.
ANDERSON: If any one of us stands up, Mia Love did this year in Utah saying, no, we’ve got to get rid of the Department of Education. She was lambasted, you know. This is a fascinating thing to me that if I stand up ‑‑ and I do this all the time in arguments against the FDA. We do not need the Food and Drug Administration. If you think the Department of Education’s bad, the FDA’s ab horn. And I know this because I study medical devices all day long. But if you stand up and you say, “We just don’t need the FDA, they need to go away, or the United States Department of Education,” it is said of you you’re a dangerous experimenter, Nic, you’re a utopian, you’re a theorist, in the modern day terms you’re a conspiracy theorist. But no, I need to get rid of the Department of Education, they need to get out, it needs to be privatized. And I mean, this is the stuff that makes heads at MSNBC explode is that, well, what are the poor kids going to do? Incidentally I call MSNBC an intellectual coloring book for adults. You know, I don’t really want to think; I just want to doodle. But I mean, MSNBC, this is what makes those brains explode is that they can’t fathom a world where the government stays out in the free market, takes care of education. You would get a better education for cheaper, and kids could ‑‑ you could collect data on those kids and it would be private amongst the parents and the children. And then the child, when he does graduate in high ‑‑ high school in twelfth grade, could have his own data that he could present to a university and say, “You know what? I have real data. I don’t have the government‑collected data garbage that all my peers have.”
GLENN: They have some pictures ‑‑
ANDERSON: They could have that and the free market could do it.
GLENN: They have some pictures in this. They have chairs that monitor the kids, they have these wristbands that they put on. It’s really disturbing‑looking stuff.
GLENN: Is it just the pictures look bad? Are these like assault pictures because the wristband is black? I mean, you know ‑‑
ANDERSON: Right, exactly. It’s black. So it’s ‑‑ does it have a pistol grip?
GLENN: I mean, the facial expression cameras that will be on each of our kids, the pupil cameras, those ‑‑ that’s disturbing, isn’t it?
ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah, the pupil dilation and the skin conduct ants are based off the same principle that there is the sympathetic nervous system, which we all know as the “fight or flight” you know. So if I asked your kid, like the picture in the documents, one of those web cams and it would be able to detect your kid’s pupils dilating meaning, “I’m shocked and I don’t know the answer to the question.”
GLENN: Right. But it also could be –
ANDERSON: like point out America on a map of North America, which most kids can’t do.
GLENN: It could be also like your parents have guns, you’ll see the pupil dilate and you’ll see, why are you nervous about that, right?
ANDERSON: That’s right. That’s right.
GLENN: Nic, thank you very much. We’ll have you on again, Nic Anderson, medical technology analyst and owner of NC Anderson Consulting. Again if you do anything on Common Core, make sure you burn it to disc because they are erasing it all and it is extraordinarily dangerous.